Industry 4.0 is happening and manufacturers face challenges in the adoption of these technologies. A recent report claims issues in this adoption change from internal barriers to more technical ones over the digitalisation journey; where is your business?
When businesses begin their industry 4.0 journey, they face challenges that are predominantly internal, these then migrate to more technical problems, an EEF report published last week claimed.
Despite progress in investment and understanding of digitalisation in the manufacturing sector, the survey indicates that 57% of firms are still to make an investment – this is considered an internal barrier.
Only 5% of companies disagree that digitalisation will be a business reality in less than a decade; what are the obstacles holding back manufacturers on their Industry 4.0 journey?
Beginning the journey to Industry 4.0
Internal barriers are obstacles that begin at the beginning of the digitlisation journey. These can include, understanding how to apply Industry 4.0 technologies to businesses, how they could offer benefits and further from that, how to build an effective business case for investment.
After internal barriers have been overcome, challenges then move to more technical ones. These include cyber security concerns, lack of skills to implement and maximise technologies and challenges around data compatibility between systems.
The adoption of digital technologies and industry 4.0, will likely transform and restructure the manufacturing sector, including business models, objectives, productivity and employee structures.
Overcoming both internal barriers and technical challenges could be problematic for manufacturers. Industrial strategies need to be ambitious, and take action to ensure a digital future for manufacturing.
Support and investment from leaders both externally and internally, is crucial in order to overcome these challenges manufacturers face on their Industry 4.0 journey.
Advantages of Industry 4.0 adoption
Once these barriers are overcome, benefits companies have or will achieve when adopting Industry 4.0 technologies, could change the face of the business entirely.
- Improved Labour efficiency
- Improved machine utilisation rates
- Increased product flexibility
- Better use of resources
- Faster time to market
Case study: Digitalisation at Hotter
Hotter shoes, a footwear manufacturer based in Lancashire, has embraced digitalisation. The firm has a £100m a year turnover, employs 600 people onsite in Skelmersdale, and has also currently got 80 stores across the UK.
Hotter not only has invested in robotics but also in data analytic systems. Robert Perkins, CEO at Hotter, said to The Manufacturer previously: “All our robots have to be programmed using data. The way we keep our costs low is to engineer our products in a way that is probably untypical for shoe making generally.”
Hotter takes an engineering approach to the way it designs and manufactures shoes. It uses data to control the manufacturing processes, tracks work in the factory and analyses stock quantities of products in its stores.
Perkins added: “Having clear transparency of where our product inventory is in the business, enables us to offer a great customer service.”
With the help of data and automated manufacturing processes, Hotter is also in a good position to customise its products, further enhancing its customer base.
He added: “We do special editions. For instance, when Megan Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement, we quickly designed and manufactured a range of shoes for the royal wedding.”